As much as I love and enjoy music, my views on R&B (or whatever this may be called today in 2015) is a tad skewed. From my childhood in the early ’90s, I’ve casually grooved to the sounds of R. Kelly, Jodeci, Tevin Campbell, etc., but I’m no die-hard fan. I may not know lyrics like the back of my hand or recite album titles like clockwork, but I do have an overall respect for what R&B was: passionate, sensual, mesmerizing, sexual, in some cases raw, and most importantly, emotional.
R&B was your go-to when you wanted to let your significant other know exactly how you felt about them, whether good or bad. We’ve all thrown on that classic song to get us through that break-up. You knew what time it was in college when the DJ let the sounds of “My mind’s telling me nooooooo!” ring through the gymnasium or club.
But as the ’90s faded (and we’re already been 15 years into the new millennium), it’s safe to say the state of popular R&B has changed. It’s more “these hoes ain’t loyal,” less “forever my lady.” Still, as the saying goes, “the only thing that remains constant is change,” and so we must adapt to what we have, R&B music included.
Today, funky R&B singer Miguel was quoted in an recent interview in reference to his relationship and thoughts on fellow crooner Frank Ocean: “I wouldn’t say we were friends. To be completely honest—and no disrespect to anyone—I genuinely believe that I make better music, all the way around.”
Now in the field of music, everyone wants to be the best. Understandable. And in the realm of competition, there’s nothing wrong with thinking your music is the best. But whatever happened to not saying anything if you have nothing positive to say? I’d also raise the question that, if you think you’re the best at something where the talent pool isn’t the deepest, is that really considered impressive?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Miguel. I’m a Frank Ocean fan. (His nostalgia, ULTRA mixtape is one of my favorite projects ever.) Artists like The Weeknd and PartyNextDoor, along with some artists who don’t receive as much shine as they should (Jeremih, BJ the Chicago Kid), are providing us with some great music to vibe out to. But whenever an artist makes a claim like Miguel has, I always watch my Twitter timeline turn into a civil war of sorts with everyone claiming sides. And from my perception of R&B in 2015, we don’t have all that much to choose from to be choosing up.
Now this may have been a ploy from the beginning; I understand that. Miguel’s new album Wildheart just dropped in late June to some positive fanfare (I’ve checked it out myself, it’s pretty good), and maybe this is an attempt to ramp up sales through some controversy. It’s hard to say we won’t hear a response from Ocean; he’s been pretty much off the map since his last album Channel Orange in 2012, although we’re supposed to be getting a new project from him this month.
And while Ocean is no stranger to R&B beef (see his dispute with Chris Brown, which involved Bloods, fade being offered, and charges pressed and later dropped), why is it that the singer guys can’t all just get along? I think the sounds change with the times, and in this case, one singer needs to focus on his new album and less on whom he thinks he’s better than.
Cory Townes was born and raised in Philadelphia, and currently lives in Brooklyn. A devout Philly sports fan, Townes is the Social Media Manager for EBONY.com. When he’s not saluting the plug or bringing headbands back in the 2015, you can reach him on Twitter @CoryTownes.